The likely entry of Joseph Lhota into the mayor's race may dramatically impact the campaign for City Hall and may make the Democratic hopefuls shift to the political center. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Joseph Lhota is poised to begin his first run for elected office. But even before he makes it official, the prospect of his candidacy is making serious waves in the city's political circles.
"The Republican candidates up to this point have been very disappointing, and so this gives us a chance to have a viable Republican candidate in November who can force a debate on the future of the city," said Greg David of the City University of New York and Crain's NY Business.
David, a journalism professor and columnist, has been encouraging Lhota to run. He said the conventional wisdom that the race will be an uphill battle is wrong, even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the city by more than six to one.
"Republicans have won five of the last six mayoral campaigns," David said.
Stu Loeser, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's former press secretary, said there is a reason Democrats keep losing City Hall.
"They consistently nominate candidates who are unelectable in the fall elections," Loeser said.
Loeser predicts Lhota will upend the Democratic primary, forcing voters to decide who has the best chance of beating a credible Republican candidate in the general election.
"His entry into the race immediately pulls the Democratic field in the center and makes the issue of electability absolutely central," Loeser said.
Lhota may also appeal to business leaders who are hardly enthusiastic about the prospect of a Democratic mayor.
"What Joe Lhota can do, and I think the business community thinks this is important, is remind New Yorkers what the city was like 25 years ago, when it was not a safe city," said Kathy Wylde of Partnership for NYC.
Lhota is expected to face a primary challenge first, but some Republicans have made up their minds.
"If there is a primary, so be it," said City Councilman James Oddo. "I'm going to vote for Joe Lhota."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the likely Democratic candidate leading in the polls so far, is refusing to get into a discussion about any opponents.
"I don't really, at this moment in time, have opponents," she said. "I have colleagues in government and fellow New Yorkers."